yana achik : where the darkness and the light meet - is a personal narrative that speaks about mental health, the emotional experience of being diagnosed and the search for healing in traditional indigenous practices.
In 2020, a few days before the world went into lockdown, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, complex post traumatic stress syndrome and depression.
Through my failed attempt to access services through my local hospital I became aware of the urgent need for culturally sensitive services and for the unique experiences of racialized bodies to be included in conversations of mental health.
In Kichwa, ‘yana’ means “darkness, black, and the great emptiness that exists in the universe.” I have always used the word ‘yana or darkness’ as a metaphor to describe the depressive states that my body goes through.
Guided by my personal ceremonial practices, the guidance of my ancestors, the elements, dreams and spirits, this past year I embraced the idea of shadow work and allowed myself the space to embrace this darkness and solitude.
In my community, we often refer to our godmothers as “achik mamas”. The word ‘achik’ means light; our godmothers are meant to be our ‘guides of light’ throughout our lives. After a year of learning to live with my diagnosis, I began imagining ‘yana achik’ as my chosen godmother. The darkness and light became the guides that led me to narrate my experience, to trust my voice, and to see beauty in the transformation my mind and body go through.